Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March Madness in Greenwich Village: NYU Women's Basketball Team Reaches Final Four

The New York University women's basketball teamsaved the best for last this season. It ran off an impressive string of wins in the latter part of the season and has now made it into the Division III Final Four this weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Violets, ranked #3 in the coaches' poll and #6 in the D3Hoops poll, won their Sectional Final with a 76-64 win over New Jersey's Kean University Saturday night at Greenwich Village's Coles Sports Center. The game was tied at 38 at the half and was close until the final five minutes. NYU trailed by 55-51 with about 13 minutes left in the game.

Sophomore standout Jessica McEntee scored 23 of her 28 points in the second half, putting in 10 straight points during one stretch. The University Athletic Association (UAA) Player of the Year also pulled down 16 rebounds in propelling NYU to the win.

NYU reached the Elite 8 the night before by defeating Simpson College 76-58. The Violets took charge early in that game and won behind a career-high 23 points by senior Karen Bachman, who also had six rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and three steals.

It was an exciting example of fast-paced basketball, and a perfect example of why I love Division III basketball. I was able to walk into the Coles Center less than 30 minutes before each game, plunk down $7, and watch a great game from the second row (on Friday night, I got to see a doubleheader for the same price).

It has been an eventful few years for the NYU team and especially its 20-year coach, Janice Quinn. In the course of the last four years Quinn lost her father and has to face both heart surgery and a cancer diagnosis.

Quinn has not only been a key factor in the Violets' status as perennial Sweet 16 participants; she has a long history with NYU. She played basketball at the school for four years as a student, and was the first Violets women's player to score 1,000 points. She then served as an assistant coach before ascending to the head coaching position in 1987. Quinn also serves as NYU's associate director for athletics.

NYU reached the Final Four for the third time in its history, the last time exactly 10 years ago, when it won the whole thing. That was the first time I'd seen NYU basketball, and it happened quite by accident. I read in the newspaper that NYU was hosting the Division III Final Four and figured I might as well check out the action. Little did I know that NYU would be in the Final Four. The Coles Center had a full house for the championship game that year. NYU trailed in the first half but seemed to wear down Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the second half. NYU won the game 72-70 on a last-second shot by Marsha Harris.

NYU will take on Washington University on Friday night at 6p.m. Whatever the outcome of the game, it's been a standout season for the college basketball team that plays its games in Greenwich Village.

No comments: